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Seedco introduces new climate smart variety of maize seed known as SC 649
Maize seed waits on the conveyor belt in the seed processing plant at Bidasem, where it is being visually examined and manually sifted by workers, picking out material such as damaged or spoiled seed or pieces of cob. After initial cleaning and sorting, all seed that goes through the plant passes through quality control. If a sample from a batch is found to more have more than 2% impurities, they are either separated out by hand like this or using a gravity table. The batch is then resampled to ensure a clean bill of health to continue processing. Bidasem is a small seed company based in the central Mexican plains region known as the Bajío. It produces approximately 10,000 bags of maize seed a year, each holding 22.5kg, as well as producing wheat and oat seed and marketing seed of other crops. Despite their small size, Bidasem and similar companies play an important role in improving farmers’ livelihoods. “Our aim is to provide farmers with quality seed at accessible prices, that is adapted to the conditions we have here in the Bajío. It’s a great satisfaction, when farmers achieve the yields they need,” says director general María Esther Rivas. “Without CIMMYT, we couldn’t exist,” says Rivas. She sells four different maize hybrids, all formed from freely-available CIMMYT parent lines. “Really the most important thing is to produce your own hybrids, and for us it wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have the germplasm from CIMMYT. What we’re currently producing is 100% CIMMYT.” The relationship between Bidasem and CIMMYT is now deepening through participation in the MasAgro initiative, which includes training courses for seed companies and collaborative trials to evaluate the best seed. Photo credit: X. Fonseca/CIMMYT. For more on seed production at Bidasem, and CIMMYT's role in providing the best seed, see CIMMYT's 2012 e-news story "The seed chain: producing better seed for small farmers," available online at: http://www.cimmyt.org/en/newsletter/598-2012/1398-the-seed-chain-producing-better-seed-for-small-farmers.
Crop production

Seedco introduces new climate smart variety of maize seed known as SC 649 

Seed Co, Zimbabwe’s biggest supplier of a variety of certified crop seeds, has introduced a new climate smart variety of maize seed known as SC 649.The new breed of maize seed (SC 649), is meant to address most farmers’ challenges related to the changes in climate.

Seed Co agronomy and extension services manager John Bhasera said the company looks at farmer insights to produce breeding objectives.

SC 649 is the highest yielding variety in the medium season maturity category with a potential yield of up to 16 tonnes per hectare under good management.

Mr Bhasera told The Herald Business; “The variety couples this high yielding ability with defensive agronomic traits such as drought tolerance and disease tolerance.”

“The yield comes from three yielding components namely; excellent cobbing ability (long, fat cobs up to 30cm), high row number lines of more than 16 up to 20, high shelling out percentage of up to 87 percent. This is the best option for business minded people looking for lucrative returns per investment,” said Mr Bhasera.

He added that the new breed was recommended in natural agro-ecological regions 1, 2a, 2b, 3 and noted that the seed can be grown in regions 4 and 5, but under full or supplementary irrigation.

Mr Bhasera said Seed Co had another variety that had been introduced called SC 419, which is an early maturity maize hybrid with yield potential of up to 14 tonnes per hectare.

With the extreme climatic changes in the country and the growing rate of diseases in high potential areas, the company said it was important to them to produce new varieties that counter challenges which most farmers are facing.

“SC 649 is climate smart, stable, hardy and hence drought tolerant. There are a number of diseases in the high potential areas such as Grey Leaf opot, blights, Common Rust, Phaespheria Leaf Spot, which can negatively affect farmer yields. This variety (SC 649) to some good extent tolerate these important diseases.

“Ideally a farmer prefers a maize variety with good to excellent standability or harvestability. The new medium season block buster endows this trait especially when planted at optimum plant populations of 50 000 to 60 000 plants per hectare,” said Mr Basera.

In order to maximize yield from Seed Co’s SC 649 variety, the company stressed that farmers were encouraged to procure their inputs in time in order to plant early to tap into the heat units of October, November and December. The group advises farmers to plant around October or November or with the first effective rains for them to get the best yields and returns.

“Whenever a farmer receives more than 30mm of rainfall within 2 to 3 days, he should plant. We always recommend that farmers adopt Good Agronomic Practices (GAPs) to be able to unlock the genetic potential of our varieties for them to get the best possible return from their investment,” added Mr Bhasera.

The new variety will be available this season in recognizable agro-dealer and agro vet shops.

Seed Co further told The Herald that they also introduced a blockbuster soyabean variety called SC Status this year. It has a yield potential of up to 5,5 tonnes per hectare under good management.

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